When I think about all my experiences as a teacher, I often reflect back on the great moments.
You know, the moment when a student finally experiences success either in the classroom or in life.
Or when a student learns a skill they should have mastered a long time ago, and they begin to make progress.
Or when a student yells the word “connection” in their math/art/music/science class because they see the “connection” between what they learned in English and what they are learning at the moment.
Even though I have had so many “great” moments, there have been many learning moments too.
You see, when I first started teaching I was 21. That is right, 21 years old. To my students in my Junior and Senior HS English class, I might as well have been 41. or 35. or 65. My first year of teaching I didn’t tell my students how old I was (since we were close in age, lol!), but what I did do was lead, teach and learn.
My first year of teaching not only taught me what it meant to have a classroom of my own but also what it meant to show love even when I didn’t want to. You see, there are many types of situations that I encountered on a daily basis as a teacher.
Situations that sometimes included:
-A student showing up late to class (again) because they were working until 11:00 pm the night before. The result of this late night: the student falling asleep in class.
-A student refusing to do any work in class and then completely shutting down despite multiple attempts to connect with them.
-A student screaming and yelling that, “No one cares!” during class and then storming out of the classroom.
What I learned in these moments (and countless other times too) is to show love. For me, showing love despite the other person pushing as hard as they could away from me was not easy.
Yet, what I believe to be true and what my experience has shown me is that when the student is pushing away, that is the time to lean in and show love. Showing love is:
-giving the student a compliment on what they are doing right
-encouraging the student to identify their emotions in the situation and reminding them that their emotions mattered as we worked together in finding a resolution.
-giving the student space when they need it, but always following up to remind them that I am there
-finding little ways to encourage and celebrate their successes to other students, teacher, and their parents.
-calling parents when the student experiences success (no matter how small). SIDE NOTE: These phone calls usually resulted in tears. Tears on both sides of the phone, the parent, and mine as we celebrated this small victory together.
As we move towards the middle of October and you begin to feel discouraged by a student’s behavior/actions/words don’t give up. You might be the only person in this student’s life that shows love or gives hope.
You got this.